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The 60th and final day of the Second Session of the 105th Legislature adjourned sine die on Wednesday, April 18th. On the last day we concluded Final Debate on a handful of legislative bills including LB1005, which is the legislation I introduced and prioritized as Chair of the Nebraska Retirement Systems Committee. It addresses the withdrawal of an employer from the County or School retirement plans and ensures that the withdrawing entity would be financially responsible for all costs to the plan so those costs do not fall on state taxpayers or other plan members or employers.
LB1005 also incorporated three additional bills I introduced including: LB698 – makes the Public Employee Retirement Board’s regulation authority permissive for all the plans it administers; LB699 – a technical clean-up that inserts language omitted from LB415, which passed last year; and LB700 – removes the obligation of the Nebraska Investment Council to invest the University Trust Fund which is overseen and managed by the University of Nebraska.
Also on the final day, the Nebraska Legislature unanimously adopted my Legislative Resolution 481 designating April as Shingles Awareness and Improvement Month in Nebraska. Nearly one in three people in the United States will contract shingles in their lifetime, corresponding to an estimated one million people annually. The risk of shingles increases with age, with nearly half of those affected over 60 years of age and half of those living until 85 years of age developing shingles. The viral infection causes a painful rash that can be severe along with other symptoms, including long-term nerve pain, scarring, and a decrease or loss of vision or hearing.
Much attention has been paid to the importance of childhood vaccinations, but there is a general lack of awareness of vaccines recommended for adults and a misperception that immunizations are unnecessary for healthy adults. Despite the recommendations of the Center for Disease Control and Prevention officials and other experts that healthy adults be vaccinated against shingles, only 30 percent of eligible adults had received the shingles vaccine as of 2015. For this reason, I introduced the resolution to increase public awareness of the importance of adults receiving vaccines against shingles, to promote outreach and education efforts concerning adult vaccination, and to encourage health care practitioners to discuss vaccines for shingle with adult patients.
During his farewell address for the end of the session, Governor Pete Ricketts praised the Legislature for their efforts this session working together to pass meaningful legislation to prevent opioid abuse, increase speed limits on state highways, make certain Nebraska students are able to read at grade level by the end of third grade and eliminate burdensome occupational licensing regulations.
We also heard farewell messages from the eight senators departing due to term limits (Bancroft Sen. Lydia Brasch, Omaha Sen. Burke Harr, Omaha Sen. Bob Krist, O’Neill Sen. Tyson Larson, Columbus Sen. Paul Schumacher and Papillion Sen. Jim Smith) or deciding not to seek reelection to a second term (Lincoln Sen. Roy Baker and Heartwell Sen. John Kuehn).
In his closing remarks before adjournment, Speaker Jim Scheer said that while we had accomplished a lot during the 60-day session, we left several issues for future legislatures to deal with. He instructed those of us returning next session to start thinking about what we want to accomplish during the interim.
During the interim period, I will be traveling through the district attending as many events and meetings as possible. My staff and I will also be busy working on several interim studies. They include:
LR368 – Examine the public employees’ retirement systems administered by the Public Employees Retirement Board
LR369 – Carry out the provisions of 13-2402 which require the Nebraska Retirement Systems Committee to monitor underfunded defined benefit plans administered by political subdivisions
LR376 – Examine whether the Property and Casualty Insurance Rate and Form Act should be amended to modernize and reduce regulatory requirements for commercial lines of property and casualty insurance
LR421 – Examine the operating expenses and fees charged for inspections, plans reviews, and other services by the Housing and Recreational Vehicle Dept. of the Public Service Commission
LR422 – Examine the issuance and usage of electronic prescriptions in accordance with regulatory standards
LR423 – Examine the application of adverse possession in the State of Nebraska and to consider recommendations for modernizing the doctrine to meet contemporary requirements
LR440 – Examine issues relating to the Nebraska Coalition for Patient Safety
As always, if we can be of assistance to you in any way, please do not hesitate to contact my office. My door is open and I have made it a goal to be accessible to the constituents of our district. Please stop by any time. My e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org, and the office phone number is (402) 471-2756. Todd and Katie are always available to assist you with your needs. If I am not immediately available, please do not hesitate to work with them to address any issues that you may need assistance.